Psychological roadblocks to the adoption of self-driving vehicles

Self-driving cars offer a bright future, but only if the public can overcome the psychological challenges that stand in the way of widespread adoption. We discuss three: ethical dilemmas, overreactions to accidents, and the opacity of the cars’ decision-making algorithms — and propose steps towards addressing them.

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Support from the ANR-Labex Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse is gratefully acknowledged. I.R. is grateful for support from the Ethics & Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund.

Author information


  1. Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA

    • Azim Shariff
  2. Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse School of Management Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Toulouse-1 Capitole, Toulouse, France

    • Jean-François Bonnefon
  3. The Media Lab, Institute for Data, Systems and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA

    • Iyad Rahwan


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Azim Shariff or Jean-François Bonnefon or Iyad Rahwan.